Helping bluebirds is a deeply satisfying hobby, and unique adventure in conservation.” ~ Steve Grooms and Dick Peterson, Bluebirds, 1991

Beautiful lens catch by expert photographer, David Kinneer.

Beautiful lens catch by expert photographer, David Kinneer.



THE PURPOSE:  This website and blog is being constructed continuously through my personal learning about bluebirding — first as a new bluebird “watcher” in the Spring of 2006 — to starting my own small bluebird trail in Winter 2007-2008 to help the local Eastern Bluebirds thrive.   It is my hope that this is visually appealing, informative, educational, inspiring, and will ultimately help you understand the passion and my own enthusiasm and joy in helping this lovely bird.   I thank my talented neighbor for helping me build and install the trail. and assists me year after year in repairs and movement of the nestbox setups to new locations.   In addition, many thanks go to all the private residents and businesses in Patrick County for their support of the Woolwine House Bluebird Trail and allowing me to install and monitor nestboxes on their properties.   I hope you are enjoy learning about bluebirds through the Woolwine House Bluebird Trail website and blog.


I hope you have a great birding year!

Copyright - Photo by David Kinneer

Beautiful closeup of this male was taken by Mr. Kinneer February 2013 at 8 AM.

Beautiful closeup of this male was taken by Mr. Kinneer February 2013 at 8 AM.

First Clutch March 2012

Fathers Day 2008

I live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Highlands of Southwest Virginia.  I am from the Chicago suburbs where I never saw a bluebird!  I  am a volunteer for the non-profit Virginia Bluebird Society (VBS) as County Coordinator for both Patrick and Floyd Counties.  Commencing in 2013, I’ve been asked to take on the role for VBS as State Coordinator.  My hope is to helps as many people I possibly can on this effort for bluebirds and conservation of this delicate creature.

I established the Woolwine House Bluebird Trail beginning Spring 2008 In monitoring and maintaining the nestboxes, I follow the VBS and Virginia Society of Ornithology’s (VSO) Principles of Birding Ethics while collecting accurate records of the cycle of nest building; egg laying, incubating, and counts eggs and hatchings and fledgings of the baby bluebirds.  Monitoring detects problems early and provide a greater chance of survival for protected cavity-nesting birds such as the chickadee, titmouse, nuthatch, tree swallow, and the wren; while also looking for signs of house sparrow nesting, ants, blowflies, and wasps that deter and kill birds using the nestboxes and administers remedies to discourage them.  The use of predator guards minimize the chance that snakes, squirrels, raccoons, large birds, mice, and cats that prey on the eggs and nestlings.  I serve on the Speaker’s Bureau for the North American Bluebird Society, (NABS) and I conduct free educational presentations and workshops to local groups, train beginners in proper nestbox selection and installation and monitoring using VBS recommendations, and will coordinate and include that data for the VBS which is kept in the state’s records and forwarded to NABS and the Transcontinental Bluebird Trail in North America.  I thoroughly enjoyed attending the 2009 NABS Annual Conference in September Grantville, PA.

The Virginia Bluebird Society (VBS) is an non-profit, all-volunteer 501(c)(3) affiliate organization of the North American Bluebird Society (NABS) and is a Chapter of the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO).  It was founded in 1998 to promote bluebirds and other native cavity nesters in Virginia.  The Virginia Bluebird Society offers grants for new or refurbished bluebird trails on public lands, for Youth and Scouts groups, and other non-profit/charity organizations interested in installing and monitoring nestboxes.  For more information on the joys of bluebirding, installing a nestbox or a monitored bluebird trail, sponsoring a nestbox for the VBS, or VBS grants, contact Christine through this website/blog:  http://woolwinehousebluebirdtrail.com or refer to the VBS website:  http://www.virginiabluebirds.org     In addition to joining the North American Bluebird  Society (NABS), I also joined the North Carolina Bluebird Society (NCBS) as of 2011.  In 2013, I joined the Texas Bluebird Society (TBS).  In addition to bluebirding and other birdwatching, I anticipate the hummingbirds’ arrivals each Spring through a migration map online:    http://www.hummingbirds.net/    At home, there are usually from 8 to 11 hummingbird feeders surrounding the house for a delightful show of the smallest and fastest birds and their humorous antics and beautiful agile flight patterns.   Nectar is made daily averaging a gallon made each day!   This year, 2013, I am joining the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO), so that I can learn so much more about other birds.

This was taken with my smartphone's camera.  I was not expecting completed nests or eggs that week, so I was checking the trail unprepared--no camera on me.  I have learned...ALWAYS bring the camera on trail checks.

This was taken with my smartphone’s camera. I was not expecting completed nests or eggs that week, so I was checking the trail unprepared–no camera on me. I have learned…ALWAYS bring the camera on trail checks.

Would you like to experience the pure joy of finding these in a nestbox?

Would you like to experience the pure joy of finding these in a nestbox?

 Thanks for visiting my bluebird site!   Please feel free to leave comments on this site with your first name only.  Your privacy is important to me — your Email address remains private to the public on this site.  All comments are screened in advance prior to posting publicly.  May blue skies and bluebirds bring you happiness! Grants are available through the Virginia Bluebird Society for your non-profit group wanting to put up a bluebird trail or to refurbish an old abandoned trail…..proud to display memberships to these wonderful organizations:

ncbslogo_carolinablue_250.gif NABS logo 17071_255445757640_2760618_n


The entry hole for Eastern Bluebirds should be 1.5 inches.

The entry hole for Eastern Bluebirds should be 1.5 inches.

Getting the cut pieces together for finishing the construction.

Getting the cut pieces together for finishing the construction.

OK, checking how this is looking now.


Hey, I’m getting the hang of this!  Here is Chris and Carl with some feeling of accomplishment.Ready for installation for first year of the Woolwine House Bluebird Trail – 2008!New designs with good ventilation, drainage, large roof overhangs and before Noel guards. Christine is standing next to the one box that fledged two broods in 2007 nesting season. The boxers on the ground were installed in January 2008 for the first year of the trail. They were eventually retrofitted again on Carl’s pickup truck to side-openings and Noel hardware cloth guards added later.The Trail started with these! Oh, what has been learned since they’ve been installed.

Christine's New Boxesfor First Year of Trail in 2008

17 comments on “PURPOSE-CONTACT

  1. To the question of boxes 59 bluebird boxes at a landfill 36 boxes on chain link fence
    two to a station 10 feet apart and station 300 feet between. 23 boxes on posts near
    ponds used to remove leachate from old landfills. March 15 thru August weekly checks are made. 2012 fledged 56 bluebirds 126 tree swallows 9 house wrens. During 10 years of monitoring have dispatched more than 700 house sparrow eggs
    and adults. Added thru the years 2 barn owl 3 kestrel boxes that fledged 38 owls
    and 39 kestrels.

  2. I have left house sparrows nest ‘s in the box but check boxes weekly. Take all
    except one house sparrow egg and mark with a felt pen and return to nest. Next
    week remove marked egg and other’s keep one and mark with felt pen, reason
    To remove marked egg they may hatch in 10 day’s in good condition’s. I have
    discovered if one egg left in nest the sparrow will return and lay more eggs thus
    will not molest nearby bluebirds . I have taken 23 eggs from one box in a year.

    • Richard, that’s a very interesting concept on passive House Sparrow control to help keep from the House Sparrow attacking other nesting native birds using natural or assumingly man-made cavities, such as nestboxes. Do you have other nestboxes in the area that the other species are using? This is what I do. I only have probably House Sparrows attempting to use nestboxes in the “in-town” location. I would remove nests once I ID’s it was House Sparrow. When one keeps removing the nest (only when ID’s as the HOSP), the female would come back and start building again. However, one time, I let the female lay all her eggs and then daily would count them and distinguish when she actually stopped laying and started incubating that clutch. Once I knew egg laying stopped, I would then remove the full nest with the cluth of eggs and clean out the box. That gives other species, like the bluebird, a chance to move in. I try not to wait too long on clearing the box of House Sparrow usage. The female would come back and find her nest and eggs gone and then disappear. The male House Sparrow is the one that actually bonds to a nestbox, not the female. He would rather just find another female House Sparrow to accept the box and fertilize as opposed try to fertilize the original female who finished laying a clutch. I liked having the whole nest with eggs as then I can use this as a display to teach others what a House Sparrow nest and eggs look like. The goal, not matter how we do it, is to NOT ALLOW this non-native pest species (the only sparrow species not native and considered a pest) to use a nestbox to produce more pest species. Kudos for your hard work in marking those eggs. That seems like quite a task to do that and keep up with daily. The fact that you are monitoring and watching that nestbox so closely to keep those eggs from hatching is quite amazing. Most experienced bluebirders or those in purple martins know the much better way to control House Sparrows is to trap and dispatch. If I trapped, I probably would try to donate the live sparrows to a raptor rehabber in my area.

  3. Hi Christine! You (I think it was you), recommended a book on Eastern Bluebird Landlords a while back when I was a member. Do you remember what it was? Please email me. : )

  4. Have you ever put this website link & the NABS link up on the Eastern Bluebird Landlords Facebook page? Love your website! It was nice to see David Kinner’s photo. I use to go to his website years ago & was amazed by the BB photos he took but he must have removed them.

    • Hi, Lynn. Thanks for the suggestion. It has been linked on other sites in past; specifically, the Virginia Bluebird Society has it on their website (www.virginiabluebirds.org). I have not contacted NABS about this page (yet). I’m glad you enjoy visiting here!

  5. HI,
    So i’m curious if you have seen a reduction in Blowflies with the Ditomaceous Earth treatments. i have recently lost 4 Bluebird hatchlings from what i think is blowflies. i have some insecticides available to me, but i would prefer to not use them. So far it’s been a good year for our Bluebirds here, but i’m irritated with the loss of a few new ones recently. Thanks for your response.


    • Hi, Nick, thanks for posting your question. Yes, I’ve seen a reduction in the aftermath of what the blowfly larvae can do to the nestlings, but I cannot keep blowflies from going into nestboxes and laying their eggs there. That’s what the blowfly has been doing for centuries—nature’s way, if you will. The Diatomaceous Earth is an organic, silica-type finely-ground powder that kills the larvae after they hatch inside a birds nest. The powder causes the larvae to breathe in the powdery substance and basically they suffocate. I find blowflies enter into most of my bluebird boxes every year–this year even on first broods, which is a first on my trail ever. Usually it’s the second and third broods. I think because our Spring was warmer earlier during the first nesting cycle, the blowflies were also earlier. Here is how I do it: I apply a few puffs of the DE with a special applicator made for using DE inside the nesting material and near the bottom of each nest and centered underneath the bluebird eggs BEFORE they hatch–say around 4-5 days before predicted hatching dates. On my trail this year, it worked marvelously. I do not recommend using any insecticide inside a bluebird nestbox–too dangerous for the adult birds and even more for growing bluebird nestlings. I hope this helps answer your question. If you’d like to discuss this further with me, I’m happy to Email you privately. Just let me know!

      • thanks for the response. I ordered and have recieved my DE. I still have two Bluebird houses with fledglings to come, they are both on their 3rd brood, amazing! The one box has three young ones that will fledge probably with in the next two days and the other is sitting on 4 eggs. When i inspected them this morning both boxes had little grubs/larvae at the bottom of the nest, the bottoms of the nest do not look like the pictures you posted though. It is very “dusty” per say at the bottom of the nest, so i’m going to try the DE. I guess i was really just curious as to where and when specifically you apply the DE, i would think i should do it before the eggs hatch right? Also how much, two or three puffs? at the bottom and middle of the nest? Do you clean out your boxes after each fledging or let the bluebirds nest right on top of the old nest? Thanks a lot for your help.


        • DO apply the DE puffs very carefully innside center of the nest underneath the eggs but not near the eggs and BEFORE the eggs hatch–best time is to do it in the afternoon when the female is most likely to be off the nest looking for food. Try to do it a few days before hatching to give the dust a chance to settle in the nest before the babies hatch. The larvae are there growing and waiting for the nestlings to hatch so they can latch onto them as soon as they hatch. Do just a 1 to 3 small puffs, being careful not to have the dust go all over the box…..I do center inside the nest and one or two puffs underneath the nest next to the wood floor. This is the areas the larvae sleep during the day. They go up at night to latch onto the nestlings when the parents stop feeding the nestlings. If you see larvae by lifting the nest slightly, try to take a brush and brush as many as you can out without disturbing those eggs. They are fragile and can crack. If you can collect them in a plastic bag and not brush them out to the ground will help keep the smell of the nest off the ground (attracks ground predators like snakes). Once the nestlings fledge, DO CLEAN OUT THE OLD NEST and make sure the box is completely cleaned and washed inside from fecal matter and all larvae and all dust, including rermaining DE dust. I use a damp rag to wash the boxes and leave them open a day to dry out and then I go back in a day to close and secure the boxes again. Most old nests will have bacteria and possible parasites….not good for them to nest on top of an old nest. Also, it’s all part of the female’s building a new nest in the nesting cycle. A clean nest built by her is better all around. You may not get another nesting this late in the season, but it’s good to be prepared in case you do!

  6. Do you know if Diatomaceous Earth is ok for nests? We are expecting our purple martins and have huge problems with blowflies last year
    PS or how to use it?

    • Hi, April. YES! I attended the NABS conference in September 2009 and learned from the incoming NABS President, Harry Schmeider, during his presentation about Diatomaceious Earth. I have ordered mine and will use for 2010. It’s the organic DE which I ordered a 2 lb bag and a “pest pistol” which will aid me in getting the right amount (not too much!) inside the nest so as not to hurt the nestlings eyes as they grow. I will still keep a few clean used bluebird nests on hand anyway for other emergencies (one each: pine needles and soft grasses). I may not need them this year. Hope not. Thanks for your note.

  7. Hi,
    Came across your site while researching blue bird nest boxes. I live in a suburban setting but there are a few wooded and small farm lots near but not adjacent to me. I put up a box last year and think I saw a bluebird investigating but next thing saw house sparrows move in. Cleaned out that nest and then a house wren moved in, which I left. I dont think this box is as good as it shoud be since reading more on good box requirements. So I have been investigating on the web. Had read about 2 hole mansion and then found your site and your 2010 trial and would be interested in the progress. Also saw there is a modified 2 hole box plan that I believe has a larger slanted roof. Other designs that I saw included a dropped floor with a wire grate on bottom to discourage blowflows I think. Was looking for a combination of all these in one box but guess you have to make your own. I am very new to this but would like to go with a better design and take down old box. I did purchase a bluebird feeder box and plan to put out mealworms. Other than starting to plant for bluebirds and birds in general, I have mostly been researching in books and on the web. Funny I remembered the name of Woolwine when planning a trip through Virginia to North Carolina. Did not have the opportunity to stay there but considered the Mountain Rose B&B and see that you have a nestbox in that very location. Good luck and wish you much success in helping the blue birds. Look forward to hearing about the progress of this 2 hole mansion. Aside from the holes, I would like to see if the deeper dimension and wider floor space are advantageous. I will read your observations of this trail and other comments on blue birding. Thank you for helping them and thinking about something bigger than yourself. I think the proverb is Chinese and says one generation plants the tree and the next generation gets the shade. Like that one. Maybe one generation can make sure there are blue birds for the next. Best wishes and warm regards,
    Char Gigante

    • Hi, Char. Thanks for your note here. I’ll write to you privately, as I have your Email address. The two-hole test has not started yet, but will this Spring 2010. Updates on the test will be posted on the tabbed page on this site as results come in. We are still inundated with snow pileup, now frozen solid–we’re still digging out! I believe our resident bluebirds have flown south some mileage to find more readily-available food sources…fruits mostly. I have not seen any bluebirds surrounding our property, even now, February 14, which is strange. The past several years, I see the males showing up on or around February 1st. It’s just been too harsh of a winter here in SW Virginia, extremly unusual for our location. House Sparrows and House Wrens are a very large problem on bluebird trails, depending on location. Stand by for an Email from me. I hope this site helps you in some way, and thanks for the post.

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